It’s Friday, and as you are hopefully aware, Monday is Halloween. That means you have one last weekend in October to visit a corn maze, venture through a haunted house, purchase goods at the French Market, carve a pumpkin and finish making a costume.
If you’ve put off the pumpkin carving and costume creating until the last minute, like me, guess what? The last minute has arrived.
Since I haven’t missed a single year of pumpkin carving, ever, I feel confident that I can help you through your fears of carving and/or destroying your pumpkin. Then, we’ll figure out what costume you still have time to throw together.
The first step to creating the perfect carved pumpkin is to choose the perfect pumpkin. When it comes to carving, they are not all created equal. You want to select a pumpkin that sits straight up on its own, that has at least one smooth, semi-flat side to it, and that has a stem, even if it’s just a stump.
Once you have purchased your pumpkin, clean off all the dirt on the outside with a hose or in a utility sink. Rub dry with a towel.
Now it’s time for the carving. The easiest way to ensure that you have all the necessary tools is to purchase a pumpkin carving kit. You can find one in almost any pharmacy, grocery store or local pumpkin farm, like Bengston's Halloween Shop.
If you choose the rustic route, you’ll need a couple sharp knives in different sizes, a few toothpicks, a pencil and an ice cream scooper or large spoon.
The first step is to cut out the top of the pumpkin. Carve a circle about two to three inches away from the stem and then pull the top off the pumpkin. Dig your hands into the pumpkin and clean out all the stringy insides and seeds until it’s as clean and hollow as you can get it. The ice cream scooper can help with this.
Print out a stencil of what you’d like to carve on your pumpkin from the Internet, or go rogue and draw your own on with a pencil. Either way, you’ll want to use the poking device from the kit or a toothpick to create dots all along the lines of the areas that you will carve out. (The stencils held you determine which parts of your image are meant to be removed.) If using a stencil, it’s best to tape it onto the pumpkin so it remains in place.
Once you’ve poked holes along all of the lines, remove the stencil and pick up the carving tool or sharp knife. Carefully carve along the dotted lines. (You might want to help children with this part, depending on their abilities and age.) Once you’ve made it all the way around a piece of pumpkin that is coming out, use your fingers to push the piece of pumpkin inward or outward. Toss these pieces into a plastic bag.
Once you’ve completed the carving, place a candle or battery-operated light bulb on a saucer or in a shallow bowl, and then into the bottom of the pumpkin. Light the candle or turn on the bulb, and return the lid on the pumpkin.
Show this pumpkin off all weekend and from 3 to 7 p.m. on Halloween, during trick-or-treat hours in Mokena.
Now, with only one weekend to work with and most costume stores picked over, your options are sparse. But you’ve still got some!
Scott Heard, manager at Halloween City in Mokena, said they still have a full zombie section with wigs, makeup and costumes, a complete wig section, a stocked makeup section and numerous all-in-one costumes from their wall of pictures.
“We also have a wall of masks, which is always a great last-minute option,” Heard said. “Grab a mask and a robe and you’re good to go with two accessories.”
Unfortunately, only the décor is offered at 50 percent off right now, according to Heard, so procrastination didn’t get you any rewards in that category.
If you want to fit in with the crowd, Heard said the most popular costumes this year have been the Scream costumes, because of Scream 4 coming out, pirate costumes, Glee costumes, Smurf costumes and career costumes for kids, such as cops, firemen and army costumes.
You could also take the traditional route and dress like a ghost, covering yourself with a white sheet with two holes for eyes, or as a mummy, wrapping yourself in toilet paper. For a female, you could wear pretty much any dress, matching outfit or uniform and call yourself a Barbie.
Or, you could come up with something completely original.